BACK TO BACK: Wando wrestling wins second straight region title
It started with a pin, then another, and then another.
Eight in all Friday as Wando wrestling steamrolled West Ashley to win its second straight Class 4A Region VII championship.
Wando (25-9) won by pin in more than half of the night’s matches to earn a perfect 79-0 road victory in the regular season finale. The win caps a perfect run through region play and an outstanding month that included a 13-3 record, a tournament win and two third-place tournament finishes.
“In December, we just didn’t wrestle well,” Wando head coach Adam Schneider said. “As a coaching staff, we knew we could do better. They worked hard and I think it really came together with our first win in January. We were able to build off that and carry the momentum through our region matches.”
Last season’s championship was Wando’s first from Region VII and this season’s repeat has Schneider confident the wrestling program is headed in the right direction. He credits the offseason work in summer camps and team-building exercises. He speaks highly of his staff that put in extra time to build the team from the youth level to the varsity. It’s that feeling of family and camaraderie that he says has helped change the culture of the program.
“That family that our coaches have created filters down to our team and is one reason that they are so close and fight for each other,” Schneider said. “Our guys put in the work and they take pride in what they’re doing. The way we’re wrestling, I think we’re capable of beating any team on the right day.”
The Warriors are in familiar position as region champs and hosts of the first two rounds of the SCHSL playoffs. Schneider and his wrestlers still remember the feeling of losing in the first round last season and watching Ashley Ridge celebrate in their home gym. He remembers the look on their faces as they watched the second round from the stands and says he hopes they use that as fuel when they step on the mats this postseason.
“That got under our skin a little bit,” Schneider said. “That’s something that sticks with you. So we’re ready to go ahead and wrestle. This year, we want to do our best to get through those first two rounds and avoid that feeling again.”
Wando will face Region VIII No. 4 seed Beaufort in the first round Feb. 8. Beaufort defeated Wando, 54-22, Dec. 11 in Mount Pleasant but Schneider expects a much more competitive match this time around.
“We’re a completely different team than we were in December,” he said. “We know it’s going to be a tough match. The playoffs are tough. We know that region, all four of their teams are good teams. We’re wrestling with a lot of confidence right now. We just have to be ready to go.”
Wando’s 14 starters gear up for the team playoffs with the individual region tournament beginning Wednesday at Cane Bay. The top three from each class advance to the Lower State individual tournament, beginning Feb. 21.